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Teacher saves toddler's life

Published On: Jun 21 2013 10:39:16 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 25 2013 10:48:23 AM CDT

Kathryn Schmuhl


Olivia Lauchner couldn't be happier to be back on a swing.

"By this morning, she's asking for ice cream and applesauce and the swing set and the swimming pool," Olivia's mom Annie Lauchner said. "And we knew she was back to her little sassy self."

The last couple days haven't been spent at home, but in the hospital. Olivia's dad, Jesse, was out of town on business when he got the call. He hopped on the first plane back to Madison, luckily returning to his two-year-old daughter in good health.

"Even when she's sick, we've never really encountered her slowing down, even a beat," Jesse said.

"She was responding and saying, you know, Mama and Dada, but still just completely out of it," Annie said.

After one night in the ICU hooked up to oxygen machines and a second night in general care, Olivia recovered from a choking scare while at daycare.

"How do you even thank all of these people?" Annie said. "There just aren't enough words. I mean, they saved her life."

Kathryn Schmuhl teaches the two-year-old class at Clubhouse For Kids II in Middleton. She has been trained in CPR but wished she'd never have to use it.

Wednesday, the toddlers were all sitting down to lunch. Within the first few bites, Olivia started choking on a piece of pear. Then, she stopped breathing.

Multiple staff members tried to Heimlech maneuver with no luck. That's when Schmuhl's training went to good use.

"Whether it's a pear or a toy or anything, it can happen at any time," Schmuhl said. "And it's really scary, and just having some sort of training can save a life.”

"It's horrific," daycare owner Kathy Regeauar said. "Horrific as a parent and a grandmother. Thinking how do you explain this to parents if we can't pull her through?"

Luckily, Olivia did pull through. She started breathing again in the ambulance, but the EMTs credited Schmuhl's CPR and the staff's quick action with saving her life.

"If it's three people, two people, five people, as long as you can get this child breathing, you've got to do it," Regeauar said.

Regeauar said all childcare facilities are required to have their staff trained in life-saving procedures. She encouraged all parents and anyone who works with children to get CPR certified themselves, and she is considering hosting a training at Clubhouse For Kids II.

Some would call Schmuhl a hero, but she said she was just in the right place at the right time with the right training. She's just happy Olivia is back to her normal self.

"I'm looking forward to when she's back on Monday and back to her normal self, and running around," Schmuhl said.

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